[sic] Magazine

[sic] Magazine – Artist Picks: The albums of 2017.

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The artists that we know, a bit, from running [sic] are an intelligent and thoughtful bunch. (See interviews) Plus, they sure know their music. We therefore invited some to share their views on this years releases.

Below you’ll find the top ten’s of some of our favorite musicians.

For every one who contributed there were another five who apologised because they ‘probably haven’t listened to ten records’ or were just too busy with their own record. We love them anyway and thank them all for taking the time to reply.

The individual lists can be found below followed by some choice video selections for your perusal and pleasure.

Personally, I was stunned by the quality and variety on display.

Enjoy:_

Anna-Lynne Williams
(Trespassers William, Lotte Kestner)

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1. Father John MistyPure Comedy

As much as I’ve tried to resist FJM, I apparently cannot. Most solid album of the year. I’ve seen him tour for his last two albums and the live performances enhance the strength of his songwriting even more. It’s also nice to hear something more introspective and serious from him. Best song of the year: so I’m growing old on magic mountain.

2. Jesse MarchantBrightest of Feathers

My current favorite artist. Cool voice, strong simple production, picks up the torch from Red House Painters, etc. He has such a good ear, everything on his recordings is precise and immaculate. This is only an ep but it’s packed with beautiful melodies and guitar lines. Can’t wait for his new full length in 2018.

3. Fleet FoxesCrack-Up

Maybe their strongest album yet. Really intricate song structures and lots of epic moments. Another great live show in ’17 as well.

4. Mount EerieA Crow Looked At Me

The most difficult listen of the year, and probably only something I’ll revisit once or twice. Written about losing his wife to cancer, his plaintive way of singing and writing only makes it more stunning and harrowing. Lines like: “when I take out the garbage at night and then have to go back in and live on” .. Tough, beautiful stuff.

5. Jeremy EnigkGhosts

The first time I heard his voice was live, and couldn’t believe my ears – the combination of indie grittiness and a flawless voice. These songs might be his most beautiful. He is a powerhouse, both as a vocalist and a songwriter.

6. The NationalSleep Well Beast

Their previous 3 albums were a trilogy of greatness that Sleep Well Beast doesn’t quite live up to for me, but the piano ballads are a nice change of pace and it’s still one of the year’s best. I’m just a sucker for the slower numbers.

7. FeistPleasure

Feist is pretty consistently lovely and raw sounding. So much vocal control blended with lo-fi sensibilities keeps things interesting and soulful.

8. JFDRBrazil

My favorite discovery of the year (and my label mate in Japan). This Icelandic lo-fi songwriter makes cool synth-y music that sounds kind of creepy. I’m hooked on the song white sun, and its video.

9. Four TetNew Energy

Some cool ambient tracks and almost meditative moments mixed in here on the new one from Kieran Hebden, in the vein of my very favorite of his, Rounds.

10. BjorkUtopia

What can you say. It’s Bjork. Everything she does is from another universe and sounds like magic. Addressing the current state of communication and technology, it’s definitely an album I look forward to spending more time with in the new year.

Honorable mentions:

Mike DumovichCopper Thieves

I’m not sure if this has been officially released yet, but mike is one of Seattle’s best and most unique songwriters. Everything he makes sounds like no one else. He’s pretty edgy and dark, but when the music softens in songs like Golden Bands and King of Swords it’s truly mesmerizing. Love it.

Angelo de AugustineSwim inside the moon

New singer/songwriter on Sufjan Stevens’ label and in the same ballpark. Hushed vocals and catchy melodies. Can’t get “crazy, stoned, and gone” out of my head.

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Richard Knox
(Gizeh Label Head, Shield Patterns/A-Sun Amissa)

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1. AmenraMass VI (Neurot Recordings)

2. ArcaArca (XL)

3. Bell WitchMirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records)

4. dälekEndangered Philosophies (Ipecac Recordings)

5. DemenNektyr (Kranky)

6. EX EYE Ex Eye, (Relapse Records)

7. OXBOW Thin Black Duke (Hydra Head Industries)

8. Ryuichi Sakamoto 坂本龍一 – async (Milan)

9. Chelsea WolfeHiss Spun (Sargent House)

10. ZuJhator (House of Mythology)

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Carlo van Putten
(Dead Guitars, The Convent)

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1. Roger WatersIs this the life we really want?

2. Black Swan LaneUnder My Fallen Sky

3. Oscar’s DrumA Cathedral of Hands

4. The ChurchMan Woman Life Death Infinity

5. The Red Sided Garter SnakesBlue Lake (was it this year?)
(Editor – No it was 2016 but we like those guys too, so, no worries. RIP John Lever)

6. David BowieNo Plan

7. SlowdiveSlowdive

8. The War On DrugsA Deeper Understanding

9. Julian CopeDrunken Songs

10. Ryan AdamsPrisoner

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Jeff Runnings
(For Against)

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In no particular order—

Houses of Heaven “Remnant” EP

GAS “Narcopop” LP,

Candelilla “Camping” LP,

Aathens “Virtue Signals” LP,

Ben Frost “The Centre Cannot Hold” LP,

Idles “Brutalism” LP,

Gary Numan “Savage” LP,

Biosphere “The Petrified Forest” LP,

Billow Observatory “II: Plains/Patterns” LP,

Richard H. Kirk “Casein” LP

Reissue of 2017: Alison’s Halo “Eyedazzler” LP

Unauthorized release of 2017: Felt “BBC Sessions” LP

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Lyndon Scarfe
(The Black Lamps, The Danse Society)

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1. James Holden & the Animal SpiritsThe Animal Spirits

2. ProtomartyrRelatives in descent

3. Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly & James McAlisterPlanetarium

4. Alice ColtraneThe Ecstatic Music of…

5. MogwaiEvery Country’s Sun

6. Hannah PeelMary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia

7. Four TetNew Energy

8. Jane WeaverModern Kosmology

9. WireSilver/Lead

10. Clark Death Peak

Great year, so much good stuff. Outside of my top 3 I could easily have come up with 7 different albums (The National, LCD, Bad Seeds best of, Arca, Floating Points, Colin Stetson etc).

The James Holden album is fantastic – proggy electronica played live with a band of jazz musicians, allegedly captured in one take. It’s a hypnotic, trance-inducing mash of throbbing synths and skronky Pharoah Sanders style sax. It sounds a ridiculous combination but it is just amazing.

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